A charity TV and film convention designed for disabled people has been rocked by the theft of £1,000 worth of equipment and prizes.
The merchandise for Feel the Force Day was stolen from a garage in Westwood. It included: six inflatable Darth Vaders, an interactive DeLorean Back to the Future car and items for sensory touch tables.
An irreplaceable photograph of a two-year-old girl called Ava, who attended the first convention before sadly dying 10 months later, was also taken.
The event’s co-founder Simon Howard said: “It’s really frustrating. We fundraise to pay for the events which are not-for-profit.
“We’re not too fussed about ticket sales, we want to make it as accessible as possible.
“When something like this happens it’s a kick in the teeth.”
The event began in 2013 and was originally aimed for 20 deaf-blind people, but 400 people came along.
Last year about 6,500 people attended, and the next convention is on September 30 at the KingsGate Conference Centre in Staplee Way, Parnwell, from 11am to 6pm.
Star guests include Hattie Hayridge, who played Holly in Red Dwarf, Mike Fielding from The Mighty Boosh, and Eastenders actor John Altman.
The event is run by the 1st Sensory Legion charity.
Mr Howard said: “We fundraise really hard to pay for the events, with over 100 volunteers supporting us throughout the year.
“It’s clear someone has planned this theft and therefore know who we are and what we do, which makes it even more disheartening that they would stoop so low.”
But he added: “This year is still going to be bigger and better than ever.”
A JustGiving page has been set up to raise funds for Feel the Force Day. To donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/simon-howard15.
The theft took place between Monday, August 7 and Saturday, August 12. Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting incident number CF0461750817.